OBJECTIVES--To determine prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in Wellington women, to identify risk factors for HPV infection, to correlate presence of HPV with cervical cytology, and to identify characteristics of women infected with HPV but with normal cytology. DESIGN--Demographic, social, personal and clinical data were collected by a confidential self-administered coded questionnaire. The presence of DNA from HPV types 6/11, 16 + 18 and 31 + 33 in cervical scrapes was determined by dot-blot DNA hybridisation. All data were correlated with cervical cytology results. SETTING AND SUBJECTS--Two thousand and twenty one women attending family planning clinics in the Wellington region participated in the study. The mean age of participants was 26 years, 33.3% currently smoked, 72.3% used hormonal contraceptives, 31.4% were married, and 91.4% were of European origin. RESULTS--We found 10.9% of the study group infected with HPV. HPV types 16 and/or 18 predominated, being detected in 71.5% of HPV-positive women either alone or with other types. Of those infected 26.2% had multiple infections. Dysplasia (n = 87) or atypia (n = 84) were observed in 26.7% of infected women (n = 221) and 6.25% of uninfected women (n = 1792). Over 8% of women with normal smears were HPV positive, and types 16/18 were most common in these women. CONCLUSIONS--Women with cervical dysplasia or atypia were six times more likely to have HPV infection than other women. The main risk factor for HPV infection, particularly with types 16 and/or 18, was multiple (> 5) sexual partners in the last year independent of other variables. Multivariate analysis of data showed no independent association between HPV infection and ethnicity, educational background, smoking history, marital status, contraceptive use, age at first sexual intercourse, or number of lifetime sexual partners.
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